Headlines: March 2nd, 1999

One month before the eight Regional Development Agencies are launched the Round Table on Sustainable Development has highlighted one of the important roles they can play. A Round Table report explores the unique opportunities for promoting sustainable development as a fundamental principle in the governance of the UK.

The report advocates that Agencies should adopt a process for developing sustainable development strategies which incorporate consultation, indicators, targets, review and accountability. It also recommends that they should establish communication procedures to ensure that competition for economic development contributes to, rather than detracts from, sustainable development. In the past there has been conflict between economic and sustainable development objectives which has led to negative tensions. It also proposes transparent and non-adversarial procedures which allow for a comprehensive option appraisal of major projects.

The UK Round Table encourages discussion on major sustainable development issues and seeks to build consensus between people who have different perspectives and different responsibilities. Members are drawn from business, environmental organisations, local government and other sections of the community. The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott is President of the Round Table.